Tuesday, February 13, 2018

India Post - nostalgia that it is

When we talk of India Post, first image that comes to our mind is that humble foot borne or cycle borne lovable figure (seen ourselves in our villages or shown in the movies) in his (those days there were only males in that job) Khaki uniform, lovingly (and also by his designation in the department) called "Postman"

Here was this character, who was lifeline to families of Soldiers posted to remote, unknown and unheard of places, Old parents whose children were working somewhere else in India, newly wed Brides who could spent barely few days with their husbands because he had to leave in search of a job, relatives who are anxious about the health of their near and dear ones in some other place and the list is endless.

There were others who were waiting for some one to tell them the news around their town, some waited for him to readout news paper for them (may be the postman was the only one who could read and write), some waited to ask the postman to write a reply to their son, husband, brother and who else for the letter they received some days ago (which also was delivered and read out by the same man).

People in the countryside might have waited for the Monsoon rain to arrive once in a year but they all waited for this vital character and a reliable one, their Postman, daily, for all 365 days (excepting Sundays).

The feeling in the town and cities has not been very different. Many a people achieved great sanctification when they sent a Money Order (New generation may not know about it and it might have been discontinued) back home and got the receipt as also letters written on a five paisa Post Card (Another thing along with Inland letter which young generation may not know) to inform them as to how they derived happiness by that meager money that was sent through Money Order.

The reliability and religiosity (Treating this job as a religion) in executing the task of delivering mail to people were (and even todate are) the hallmarks of India Post. Way back, when I was doing my BE at Bilaspur in MP (Now in CG), I have received letters where the address was just Harshad Datar, Bilaspur. It must be remembered that even those days Bilaspur was a big city.

When I asked the postman as to how such letters reach me, he explained that there are limited delivery zones in a city (Bilaspur had two, Rly Zone and CIty Zone). When a letter is received with incomplete address, all the postmen of the zone are asked if they have a person of that name in their beat. If the answer from one of the postman is yes, the letter is given to him. If the answer is no, the letter is transferred to another zone where this process is repeated. SOme postman in some zone recollects the name and delivers the letter, How wonderful.

Yet another time a letter posted by me with incomplete address (with out house no and lane no, left blank by mistake) for a Bandra East resident was still delivered. All this for a meager cost of two rupees (that w as the required postage for an envelop those days).

 Another great thing was, if any of the letter posted had less amount stamps then required, then it was termed Postage Due letter (and stamped accordingly) and was definitely delivered. The due amount was collected from the receiver. Such letters were termed "Berang" in Hindi. Knowing this habit or procedure of India Post, many a businesses intentionally posted their letters "Berang" i.e. with less postage stamps than required,, knowing fully well that due to postal procedures those letters would be definitely delivered.

There were some wonder employees of Posts. When I was at Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Ooty, we had a postman, if I remember his name correctly, called Ranga. Every year about 400 hundred officers used to join. Each was allocated a locker number and within few days, Ranga knew each officer, his name and locker Number (all mail was delivered into the lockers). He did this years after years. I am not sure if he is still around, but this humble postman received praise and high respect from each of the officer attending staff course. Similar was the story in many bases where looking at your face the Postman would tell you if there is a letter for you or not.

Post Offices were old, dusty, run down, ramshackle but the service that they provided were first class, personalized, always delivered with smile and at very meager cost. They were just superb. The Nostalgia of the Post Office and its simple, sincere and  humble postmen who toiled each day serving all, rich and poor alike. Even other things like Post Office Saving Scheme were wonderful. Some poor people new only Post Office Saving Scheme as their first and mostly last bank.

Today post offices have somewhat modernized. Importance of the Snail Mail has diminished (not gone away), personal touch of postman (at least in big cities) is also somewhat reduced but India Post Nostalgia lingers on. What an Nostalgia India Post was an it continues to be.

May "Parmatma, Supreme Being" bless all those wonderful India Post Staffers who brought solace and happiness to millions, who shared peoples grief and consoled them, who were the hopes of millions and their only medium to be in touch with their near and dear ones who were far away for various reasons.

I love India Post and may they flourish with each passing day.

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